The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
October 12, 2016
 We are congregations who seek to be a collective expression of the Body of Christ, 
joyfully participating in Christ's ongoing life and work. "Therefore encourage one 
another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing." 
(I Thessalonians 5:11)

Congregation of the Week of October 16-22
First Presbyterian Church of Winnebago

Leadership List:
  • Rev. Michael A. Roys & Rev. Kathy L. Blair -- pastors
  • Carol Ricard -- Secretary & Clerk
  • Amber Franklin -- Custodian
  • MaryJean Miller & Tara Blair -- organist/pianist
 
Prayer Concerns:
  • Safety during harvest
  • Repair/replacement of much of our boiler/heat system & fundraising
  • Several members w/significant health issues and caregivers of those members
  • For the work of Nominating, Stewardship & Swiss Steak Dinner Committees
  • Concern for victims of violence -- New York, St. Cloud, Houston, Syria and more
The Word from Rick: Bits and Pieces

As I ponder this week's epistle from 4055 Abbott Drive, I don't have any one particular message for you, just a number of little one s that hopefully highlight some of the life of our presbytery and the greater church.
 
Notes from the Synod Gathering:
Our synod representatives John Bowden and Al Jergenson will present a more substantial report of the synod meeting, but there are two pieces I want to share before November 5.
 
First, two years ago, with the synod's help, we were able to provide some financial assistance to congregations that got caught short by the Board of Pensions change in the medical dues. That assistance was to be spent out by the end of this year, with the excess to be returned to the synod. As of last week, that is not going to be the case. With another shift in the medical dues structures, t here may still be some congregations that could use help, and to that end, the synod granted us permission to hold on to those funds. We are not certain exactly how much we might have available, but as soon as we do, we will let you all know what we plan to do. Stay tuned!
 
Secondly, with synod's help, our presbytery is joining in a multi-presbytery effort to create "The Academy," a leadership development ministry program that will help raise up and train ruling elders who are seeking the tools to become commissionable. Using the resources available through our Synod School and others in the region, this program could be launched next summer. Ruling Elders Kathy Knips (Lismore) and Stan Menning (Dawson), along with Teaching Elder Elaine Boyd (Amboy) have been part of the conversations related to this new effort.
 
"Building Interfaith Bridges" : Over one hundred people are planning to attend Saturday's gathering in Redwood Falls which will feature a presentation by Dr. Sayyid Syeed and conversations with Christian and Muslim leaders from across our region. We look forward to an insight-filled day together.
 
People Notes: Rev. Cory Germain returned from his deployment with the National Guard about six weeks ago, and is back among us. On Sunday, he accepted a call to serve as the "Settled Pastor" of the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Fairmont. Jason Cunningham reported that the twins - Sawyer and Knox - continue to progress slowly. They have come a long way in a few short weeks, but still have a ways to go. Continue your prayers for the Cunningham family. From General Assembly YAAD to Homecoming Queen: there is royalty among us! Elizabeth Prouty, our General Assembly Young Adult Advisory Delegate, was chosen homecoming queen at Redwood Valley High School. Congratulations to Elizabeth - and by the way, I am sure that her parents have photos to share!
 
On a more serious note: Hurricane Matthew dealt another major blow to the country of Haiti, as well as to portions of the Caribbean and the U.S. southeast coast. As always, PDA - Presbyterian Disaster Assistance - is on the scene doing what it does best, bringing a faithful response to disaster in the name of Jesus Christ. Later in this week's Valley Bridge, there is information about supporting PDA's ongoing efforts. I know that our people will be generous in our support of this work!

This is all that I have for you this week! Blessings on the Journey!
 
Grace and Peace,
Rick
Opportunities to Serve in the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys

The Committee on Representation, which serves as the Nominating Committee for our presbytery met last Friday. We are now well into the process of nominating individuals to serve this presbytery during the years ahead. We have received a number of positive responses to our invitations, but at the same time, we still have some places where we are seeking individuals who would be willing to step forward and share their gifts and energies with us.
 
These are some of the needs that we still have:
  • The Commission on Leadership
    • 1 Ruling Elder
    • 1 Teaching Elder
  • The Commission on Presbytery Operations
    • 1 person, either a Ruling Elder or Teaching Elder with an interest in Finance
  • The Commission on Congregational Transformation and Development
    • 1 Ruling Elder
    • 1 Teaching Elder
We might have other needs. It is still too soon to tell. If they arise, we will let the presbytery know.
 
In the meantime, if you believe that God might be calling you to serve in one of these roles, or if you have someone in your congregation who might be just the person we are looking, please share that information with us, immediately. Our Chairperson, Rev. Bill Yueill, would love to hear from you. He can be reached at wyueill@izoom.net .
On the Road with Rick
October 11 - Session Meeting, First Presbyterian Church, Osakis
October 12 - Presbytery Planning, Redwood Falls
October 12 - Session Meeting, First Presbyterian Church, Fulda
October 13 - Commission on Presbytery Operations, Redwood Falls
October 15 - "Building Interfaith Bridges," First Presbyterian Church, Redwood Falls
October 16 - Worship at First Presbyterian Church, Redwood Falls
October 23 - Preach at Hope Presbyterian Church, Spicer
October 30 - Preach at Maine Presbyterian Church
November 5 - Presbytery Meeting at Union Presbyterian Church, Saint Peter
November 6 - Preach at First Presbyterian Church, Osakis
November 13 - Preach at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, Rushmore and Zion Presbyterian Church, Ellsworth
December 4 - Preach at First Presbyterian Church, Blue Earth
December 4-10 - Winter All Staff Conference, Mercy Center, Burlingame, California
December 18 - Preach at First Presbyterian Church, Brainerd
Invitation to the 2017 APCE Annual Event
(Association of Presbyterian Church Educators)
Grace and peace to you. It is with great joy that we extend an invitation the the 2017 APCE Annual Event!

Psalm 46 reminds us that  God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble ... that though the waters roar and foam and the mountains tremble with its tumult, God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved.
 
In Baltimore, we were challenged: Fear Not!  In Chicago, we were called to see, hear, and live the new thing God is doing! We want you to know that we know how brave you are, and how challenging it can be to step into new thing.  It can feel like the mountains are quaking and falling into the heart of the sea! In Denver, Colorado, we invite you to be still, and know that God is God..."
 
This is a quality event for individuals who are involved in the educational ministries of our congregations. Check out the information at www.apcenet.org today! Assistance may be requested through the Commission on Congregational Transformation and Development!
Pulpit Supply Opportunity - This Is a Great and Urgent Need

The session of the First Presbyterian Church of Osakis is seeking individuals to help provide pulpit supply for their congregation while they continue their pastoral search. If you are a teaching elder or ruling elder who has time that you would like to offer to your friends in Osakis, please contact Elder Shirley Helberg - shirley_helberg@yahoo.com  - or the Session Moderator, Rick Carus, at the presbytery office.
Ministry Opportunities

The First Presbyterian Church of Pipestone  is seeking a Designated Pastor to lead them as they seek to grow and develop active disciples. First Presbyterian Church desires to be a congregation that will embrace new ideas that will lead them into a new and exciting future. 
If you, or someone you know, might be the dynamic, committed pastoral leader that FPC-Pipestone needs, please take a serious look at this opportunity! The Ministry Information Form is posted on the Church Leadership Connection web site -- http://oga.pcusa.org/section/mid-council-ministries/clc/. It is MIF ID#03796.AC0. For more information, contact Rick Carus at the presbytery office - 320.235.7910 or rick@minnesotavalleys.org .

The First Presbyterian Church Osakis is continuing its search for a Pastor to lead them as they live out the visions that have been generated by their New Beginning conversations. If you, or someone you know, has a passion for small towns and energetic small-member congregations, please encourage consideration of this opportunity!  The Ministry Information Form for this opportunity is posted on the Church Leadership Connection web site. It is MIF#: 03890.AC1. For more information, please contact PNC Chairperson Shari Maloney at 320.859.3098 or by e-mail - sharim@alextech.edu .

The First Presbyterian Church of Randall is currently developing its Ministry Information Form in preparation for a pastoral search. As soon as this document is posted, we will make an announcement through the Valley Bridge.
Useful Link for Church Treasurers: 
It's time to order your Presbyterians Today 2016 Advent Calendar: A Journey of Memories

Advent is a time of remembering. In the weeks before Christmas, we watch, wait, and prepare for the coming of the Messiah. We read Scriptures and practice church traditions that have been around for 2,000 years. This year's devotional is a journey of memories-of so many sights, smells, tastes, and sounds that point to the promise of God in Jesus Christ. These are the daily incarnations of our faith. When does a touch remind us of Jesus? Can a candle bring God's hope to a dark room? Can a smell take us to a holy place?

Sue Washburn-pastor and editor of Presbyterians Today-has put together a collection of daily reflections and prayers to help us experience the joy and wonder of Christ's birth with the senses God has given us.

Susan Blank's exquisite handmade quilts add to the beauty and remembrances in this year's Advent Calendar.

Perfect for congregations, families, and individuals, A Journey of Memories provides a Scripture reading, meditation, and prayer for each day of Advent.

Order copies for your congregation now to ensure delivery before Advent. 

Your congregation is invited to order these Advent Calendars at $1.50 per copy through the presbytery office. The deadline to order is Tuesday, October 18. Please call or email Karen at the presbytery office: 320-235-7910 or karen@minnesotavalleys.org.
Worship Chairs for Sale

Submitted by Steve Tyykila

The Canby ministerial association's after school program was recently given the building and contents of an LCMC church that dissolved. Included in that was a wooden lector stand/pulpit, communion table, and baptismal font we want to give away. We also have 80 almost new worship chairs that hook together, many of them with racks for Bibles and hymnbooks. We would like to sell them for $40 apiece.  Link to pictures

Interested? Contact Pastor Levi Bollerus, Our Savior's Lutheran Church, 507-223-7072.
May they cling to the compassion of Christ

[God] comforts us in all our trouble so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Cor. 1:4 NIV)

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) urges your support for those affected by Hurricane Matthew. The category 4 hurricane has already been blamed for hundreds of deaths and continues on a path of destruction toward the southeastern US coast. Earliest assessments confirm extensive damage in southwestern Haiti and eastern Cuba. PDA was already active in the area, doing long-term recovery work related to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and Superstorm Sandy of 2012.

PDA will immediately begin working alongside established partners to respond to this latest crisis. Immediate response will help provide essential food, water, and supplies for impacted communities and villages. As long-term recovery needs are determined, PDA will continue to support those in impacted areas to ensure a comprehensive recovery.

As more information becomes available on conditions in Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas, and the United States, PDA will update this information and keep the church apprised on the emerging disaster response and community needs for recovery. Thank you for your generosity in prayer and in giving to those whose lives have been impacted by wind and water; as the Holy Spirit once brooded over the unformed waters of the earth and created order and life, so your prayerful gifts bring hope out of chaos. 

The needs for the response will be great. God's people are once again called on to stand in the "GAP"-Give. Act. Pray.

GIVE
Financial support for relief efforts can be designated to DR000148 with reference to Matthew. Gifts can be made online, by phone at (800) 872-3283, or by check, which can be mailed to:
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys c/o Synod of Lakes and Prairies, 2115 Clliff Dr, Eagan MN 55122

ACT
Learn how you and your congregation can help families who have lost everything in the devastation. Stay informed and like us on Facebook, download resources, and share updates with your congregation.

PRAY
Pray for those who suffered loss of family or home or for those who are working tirelessly to provide rescue, humanitarian aid, and spiritual and psychological support.

What Happens When Seeds of Hope Fall on Good Soil?

Ministries supported by the Presbyterian Giving Catalog have helped change the lives of thousands around the world. Here's the story of just one.

Naigaga Monica, a mother in eastern Uganda, was trained as a Community Agriculture Trainer through an initiative supported by the Presbyterian Hunger Program. She and another trainer support 58 other women as they improve their farms.

Supplied with improved seed and educated in new farming techniques, Naigaga and her family harvested an incredible 600% more corn and beans in the first season. "Above all, my children will no longer go to sleep hungry," Naigaga says. "We have plenty of cassava, beans, and sweet potatoes to eat."

Your gift toward the Women's Empowerment Project will reach far. The project's training and support provide hope and nourishment to women, their families, and their communities.

Shop the online catalog today, and help other women like Naigaga sow hope in good soil.
Preview the Annual Enrollment Guide for Members

As a reminder, annual enrollment for 2017 benefits is October 17 - November 11, 2016. This year's annual enrollment is different for employees:
  • The benefits elections available to employees are based on the selections employers created and submitted with their Employer Agreements.
  • Employees must complete the annual enrollment process online through Benefits Connect. No paper forms will be available.
Here's a preview of the Annual Enrollment Guide, which will be mailed to employees to help them make 2017 benefits elections on Benefits Connect. Churches and other employers also will receive an email preview.

You will receive a paper copy of the guide by mail, as will churches and other employers, near the beginning of annual enrollment.

We ask your continued support in helping employers and employees within your bounds with questions they may have throughout annual enrollment.

If you have questions about the enrollment process, call the Board at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN).

The text of the email that was sent to employers today is below.

Remind Members To Enroll by November 11
 
As a reminder, annual enrollment for 2017 benefits is October 17 - November 11, 2016. This year's annual enrollment is different for employees:
  • The benefits elections available to employees are based on the selections you created and submitted with your organization's Employer Agreement.
  • Employees must complete the annual enrollment process online through Benefits Connect. No paper forms will be available. 
Here is a preview of the Annual Enrollment Guide, which will be mailed to employees to help them make 2017 benefits elections on Benefits Connect.

You will also receive a paper copy of the guide in the mail near the beginning of annual enrollment.

Remember:
  • Remind employees that November 11 is the deadline to enroll for 2017 benefits on Benefits Connect.
  • Refer to the 2017 Benefits Plan Summary and Overview of the 2017 Benefits Plan for additional Benefits Plan information.
  • Offer employees the opportunity to contribute pretax if you are requiring employee contributions (view the Tax-Advantaged Plans web module on pensions.org for assistance).
Call the Board at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN) if you have questions.
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